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By Trisha Reed-Fike/ Special to The Californian
BY JENNIFER SELF Californian lifestyles editor email@example.com
Kenny Reed is usually the star of the show at Guthrie's Alley Cat, the downtown Bakersfield bar he's owned for decades. But on Thursday, they wouldn't even let him through the door.
The iconic watering hole and its Thursday morning regulars have gone Hollywood -- or at least they did for a few hours -- when the cast and crew of a film called "Entertainment" took over, clearing out the pool table, shutting down the jukebox, and, gulp, cutting the air on day 11 of our sweltering July heat wave.
Next up: Trout's
Thursday was the second day of filming on "Entertainment," said producer Ryan Zacarias, who reported the crew will be shooting in Mojave and Tehachapi for a few days before heading back to Bakersfield.
Tom Rockwell, who operates Trout's in Oildale, said the film crew will be at the North Chester Avenue honky-tonk from about 9 a.m. through the afternoon on Monday.
"We'll still stay open," Rockwell said. "We never close."
"I came straight to the bar from the Central Coast and a security guard stopped me and said, 'We're shooting' and he asked me who I was," Reed said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. "I said I own the building, the business and the ground you're standing on. But he knew what he was doing, so I didn't get in.
"I drove to Wool Growers, sat and bitched about it in the bar for an hour, everyone made fun of me and I went home."
What Reed missed, other than a chance to shoot a selfie with actor John C. Reilly, was some groan-inducing standup, said Trisha Reed-Fike, Reed's daughter and part owner of the Alley Cat.
"It's about a dorky-looking comedian trying to revitalize his career, hitting the clubs," Reed-Fike said. "He was doing horrible, horrible standup, getting heckled. John C. Reilly was playing a distant cousin, enthralled with what he was doing. My husband mentioned it looks like a mockumentary."
Gregg Turkington plays the comedian, Reed-Fike said, but Reilly appears to be the top name attached to the movie at this point. A favorite on-screen partner of Will Ferrell's -- the two co-starred in both "Anchorman" films among other high-profile comedies -- Reilly couldn't be nicer, Reed-Fike said.
"He was gracious. He let the bartenders take pictures with him and just drank his hot tea and did his scenes. He brought his own tea with his own diffuser and a little steeping pot. I heated up some water for him. He sat quietly until his scenes were up and visited with whoever came up and talked to him."
Bakersfield was in need of a shot of goodwill from Hollywood, considering the recent uproar caused by the pointed observations made to a television news station by actor Eric Roberts -- in town on a different project -- about the city being "a terrible place."
"He was not really a good spokesmodel for what I've been experiencing," said Reed-Fike, who raved about the professionalism of the cast and crew who shot at her bar. "But he said it's hot, and he's right about that. The film crew was headed to the Mojave Desert after this -- so they'll be in the middle of the 2 o'clock afternoon sun in Mojave."
Producers contacted Reed-Fike a little over a week ago about filming at the bar, already the setting of several national television and print commercials, some independent films and one particularly memorable project in the '80s starring Italian film actress Claudia Cardinale.
Reed -- whose most vivid recollection was how desperately he coveted the catering truck -- learned a few lessons on that shoot, like it's better to keep things hush-hush than to invite a swarm of fame-seekers beating a path to the swinging doors, over which looms the best neon sign in Bakersfield.
"Back in those days, we opened pretty early," said Reed, who has owned the bar since 1976. "There were these women who came in dressed to the nines, wanting to be discovered. By the time they shot -- it was a nighttime shoot -- they were drunker than hell and their makeup was smeared. I can still remember the face of one gal. She was pretty when she came in."
The "Entertainment" crew wasn't looking for pretty extras, so the Thursday morning drinkers, who filed in like clockwork, were in luck.
"We have one particular regular," said Reed-Fike. "He's 80 years old and his name is Dan. He's as grouchy as they come. He wanted to sit in the seat he always sits in and drink the mug of beer he always drinks, and when they were moving people around, they asked grouchy old Dan to scoot down, and he said no. They said, 'Oh, no, he's fine. Leave him there.'"
But the crew had the last laugh on Dan, literally.
"They had Dan and a lovely Vietnam vet stand up near the door to look like they're watching this horrible act," said Reed-Fike, who didn't give Dan's last name. "Dan says during the scene, 'I don't know why I even moved to Bakersfield' -- because he's grouchy and rude and doesn't care whose scene he's ruining. And then when the scene was over, it was silent for a second and then the director and cast erupted in laughter and the director said, 'It works.'"
Reed-Fike has no way of knowing, of course, whether her starchy regular will make the final cut, or if any of the extras will. She was too busy running around the bar unplugging this and silencing that to do much barstool sitting herself, but she did get to sling drinks with her bartender for a few shots.
"This is the biggest film shoot we've ever had (at the bar)," said Fike-Reed, noting the 20-odd-member crew showed up about 9:30 a.m. and left around 2. "It was a little more serious than we expected. I thought it was just going to be a few stills."
The owners were paid $400 for their trouble -- which is about the take of an average Thursday for that time period -- but they said they did it for the fun of it anyway.
"But it was so exhausting," said Reed-Fike, who was beating a path to the family's home on the coast when reached by phone. "I was so glad when they left so I could turn my air back on and get back to normal."
Speaking of getting back to normal, how is grouchy old Dan holding up?
"He just wanted to come down like he does every day to watch his old movies on Turner Classics we let him watch, drink his beer and enjoy his air-conditioning. But tomorrow morning, dollars to doughnuts, he'll be bragging he was in there and that he was asked to be in a scene."